The United States is presently saturated with presidential election propaganda. As a result, the mass media devote little or no time to the story of the year: that in 2008 America entered observable, measurable decline.
“The Post-American World” blared the cover of the May 12 edition of Newsweek. In the cover story, Fareed Zakaria, editor of Newsweek International, observed, “[F]or the first time in living memory the United States does not seem to be leading the charge. Americans see that a new world is coming into being, but fear it is one being shaped in distant lands and by foreign people” (emphasis mine throughout).
The May/June edition of Foreign Affairs, the periodic journal of the Council on Foreign Relations (cfr), asked, “Is America in Decline?” Inside, cfr President Richard Haass stated, “The reality of American strength should not mask the relative decline of the United States’s position in the world—and with this relative decline in power an absolute decline in influence and independence.” Haass noted that many Asian economies are growing two to three times faster than that of the United States.
Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, also wrote in the same Foreign Affairs edition on the broader subject of the decline of the major influence of Western civilization—primarily the Anglo-Saxon peoples. His context was the rise of the Asian powers. Mahbubani observed, “The West is understandably reluctant to accept that the era of its domination is ending and that the Asian century has come. … [T]he West’s resistance to giving up control of key global institutions and processes is natural. … [T]he West has also become increasingly incompetent in its handling of key global problems.”
The message is clear. Though the visions of these commentators vary on their projections of just what will comprise the eventual global order, they all agree on one point: The world has entered the post-superpower-America era. The U.S. is being challenged and overtaken by what Zakaria terms “the rise of the rest.”
Declaring the Unthinkable
The rapid decline of the U.S. from superpower status would have seemed unthinkable to many less than 20 years ago. In 1990, the Soviet Union catastrophically imploded, leaving America at the top of the global pile. Shortly thereafter came the Gulf War of January 1991 and the defeat of Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi military forces, the fourth-largest army in the world at that time.
President George Bush Sr. was euphoric at Saddam’s defeat. The words in his victory speech expressed not only his mood, but also that of many Americans. On the night of March 6, 1991, the president declared, “Until now, the world we’ve known has been a world divided—a world of barbed wire and concrete block, conflict and cold war. Now we can see a new world coming into view. A world in which there is the very real prospect of a new world order. … A world in which freedom and respect for human rights find a home among all nations.”
Suddenly, one superpower strode the world like a colossal policeman. Surely now, given the perceived success of the famous American dream and the triumph of Western democracy over Soviet and Islamist tyranny, the U.S. would become the guarantor of a prevailing world peace!
It didn’t quite turn out that way. “Despite the proclamations of a ‘new world order,’ the hallmark of the early 1990s was not harmony, but burgeoning disorder. For every problem solved, a new and equally pressing crisis unfolded. After two years of tumultuous change, the world was trapped in a troubled transition that was proving bloodier, costlier and more confusing than anyone had anticipated” (Robin Wright and Doyle McManus, Flashpoints).
Less than two decades later, the accelerating pace of the decline of the U.S. from its brief moment in history as a lone superpower is becoming more measurable.
That this situation had become entirely predictable within a decade of America gaining sole superpower status was missed by the overwhelming majority of mass media pundits. But it certainly was not missed by the Trumpet’s own editor in chief. Just 10 years following the banishment from superpower status of the Soviet empire and America’s takeover of the chief global political seat on the planet, Gerald Flurry wrote the following scathing assessment of the way that the U.S. had handled its unprecedented access to global power: “America refuses to see that we have become a spineless spectacle before the world. That is the way the world sees us” (“The Rise and Fall of a Superpower,” Philadelphia Trumpet, January 2000).
Barely a year and a half later, that perception of spinelessness helped trigger the massive 9/11 Islamist terrorist attack on New York and Washington, d.c. Now it is stimulating tectonic changes in the geopolitical structure of this globe.
Few American commentators had the courage, or indeed the foresight, to headline the signs of the descent of America from superpower status when those signs were already observable eight years ago. Now, with the benefit of hindsight, many are jumping on the bandwagon.
A sampling of excerpts from recent articles published in some of the better-quality periodicals reveals the following. “The Second World is reshaping the world …. What can be felt just as powerfully is the relative decline of the U.S. and the increasing assertiveness of both the eu and China” in the new geopolitical marketplace (Prospect, May 2008). “[T]he Indian Ocean is emerging as a new locus of power that increasingly unites China, India, the Middle East and Africa” (Wilson Quarterly, Spring 2008). Recent editions of the Economist point to the rise of the Gulf States that are “awash with capital” as the U.S. economy is on the slide; Vietnam developing at “stunning speed”; relations between China and Japan “blossoming,” with them signing a “blueprint for … both military and cultural exchanges.” The May 19 National Review, in a piece featuring Philip Babbitt’s book Terror and Consent, briefly looks outside the America-centric haze that engulfs the U.S. and catches a glimpse of “the rapidly changing conditions abroad that favor our enemies.”
That the brief age of American dominance as the world’s sole superpower has ended is no longer debatable.
So what is likely to be the fallout from America’s decline from superpower status? It is shaping up to be a global order far from that envisioned by President Bush on that spring night of 1991.
Expect the Unexpected
There is no shortage of views on the effects of the waning of American power.
Quite a number of commentators, such as Richard Haass, believe we will see an “age of nonpolarity.” They believe the principal constraint that will prevent any rivalry between any nations or power blocs that emerge to fill the vacuum created by the decline of U.S. power will be their dependence on the international system for their economic welfare and political stability. Haass maintains, “They do not, accordingly, want to disrupt an order that serves their national interests” (op. cit.).
But there is a hole in that argument.
What if a major disruption to that system—a catastrophe outside the direct control and influence of the rising powers, such as was barely avoided in the wake of the East Asian economic meltdown of the 1990s or the more recent U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown, or even a succession of major “natural” catastrophes—leads to the system’s collapse?
In such a situation, human nature dictates that self-interest dominates—regardless of the consequences!
Indeed, it is the unexpected catastrophe, happening at the least-imagined moment, that can, and does, wreak the most havoc on society! “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thessalonians 5:3).
What about those phenomena that market analyst Dan Denning describes as “Things we haven’t thought about because they are so unlikely that you can’t create a probability for them”? (Daily Reckoning, May 19). Of course, the improbable sometimes becomes reality. It’s under such global crises that great-power rivalry can be triggered and demagogues arise.
As economist Peter Jay has stated,
“[T]here is a possibility of a breakdown in existing economic systems in the West, leading maybe to anarchy, maybe to governments ruling more by strongman tactics. What would our daily life be like if that forecast were fulfilled?” (The Crisis of Western Political Economy).
The world has had a foretaste of that in the wake of the process of decolonization. The systems that brought civilization to whole continents, in particular under British rule, soon collapsed under the dictatorial rule of many a tyrant when the British withdrew.
The British Empire is long gone, its former glory now embedded in history. Now America too has had its glory days and is rapidly fading as a global superpower. Though still kicking and struggling against the tide of what Fareed Zakaria terms the “rise of the rest,” the U.S. is already losing the status and prestige—and well down the road to losing the power—that it once wielded as global policeman.
Other contending policemen are rapidly emerging. Let’s examine them one at a time.
Six years ago, British philosopher and cultural critic Roger Scruton authored a book titled The West and the Rest. In that incisive treatise, Scruton compares the history and contributions to global society of, most especially, the Anglo-Saxons with those of the rest of the world. He also tracks the rise of an Islamic culture antipathetic to the West. His main thesis is about “the vision of society and political order that lies at the heart of ‘Western civilization’” and how the “apparent conflict with Islam is fed by the decay of that vision, and the loss of the political loyalty on which it depends.”
Many factors (of which this magazine writes often) have contributed to the decay of that vision once held by the American and British peoples. There is a law of human relations that dictates, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
Scruton notes that no institution has contributed externally to “the decay of that vision” more than the rise of the antidemocratic European Union. He points out that the eu has engaged a process “that will effectively extinguish the national democracies of Europe and erect in their place a European superstate.” Scruton further observes that the eu has contrived to destroy Britain as a United Kingdom, pointing out that by virtue of its membership in the eu, “the nation-state that did most to create the modern world—namely England—has already been replaced by ‘regions’ that have no historical meaning and defy all the local loyalties to which English patriotism responds” (ibid.).
Such a situation then leads to opportunity for contenders for world power—even for superpower status—to raise their heads.
Peter Struck, Germany’s former defense minister and leader of a group at the forefront of touting for a pan-European army, declared, “[S]ingle states are no longer able to handle the threats of today” (eu Observer, May 8).
See the strategy at work here.
The Balkan Peninsula is a case in point. Germany, in concert with the Vatican, contrived to break up greater Yugoslavia into its constituent states, none of which is able to “handle the threats of today” by itself—so Germany, under the cloak of the eu, steps up to the plate to “handle the threats.”
On the other hand, the strategy of regionalization is a type of psychological warfare designed to break national spirit. Regionalize a former United Kingdom and you fragment local loyalties to the point where there is no national cohesion. National patriotism, which rallied the British in two great world wars, becomes defunct, as does any sense of national spirit. That sets up the takeover of a nation by a superior power which will then “handle the threats of the day,” posing solutions in its own interests rather than those of the states it is ostensibly protecting.
It is becoming daily more apparent that the European Union, with Germany at the forefront, is emerging as the power with the greatest potential to fill the vacuum being created by America’s decline. German leaders see the dwindling potency of an American military power that has no political will to assert its huge superiority in hardware over its enemies. They realize they can no longer depend on the U.S. as a guarantor of European security. Such a situation motivates leaders such as Germany’s vice chancellor and foreign minister to want a European army established.
A key element within the eu constitution/reform treaty is a little-publicized clause that allows a mere handful of nations to propose and ram through the initiative to build a European military force. Germany’s vice chancellor recently went vocal on the need to take advantage of this clause. “Frank-Walter Steinmeier has indicated he would like to see a European army established … and that he would like to see moves in this direction speeded up,” eu Observer reported on May 8. “German daily Tagespiegel reported Mr. Steinmeier as referring to the fact that the eu’s new treaty, currently undergoing ratification across the European Union, allows for the possibility of a group of member states to ‘move ahead’ in defense policy. … The end result of a consolidation of military capacities must be a European army, said Mr. Steinmeier …” (ibid.). France has already signaled that during its presidency of the eu over the second half of this year it intends to push for the development of an eu military force.
This is a direct challenge to nato and especially to Washington. Indications are that the Franco/German-led eu military agenda will dominate relations across the Atlantic over the next two years as America’s will to employ its own military power continues to wane.
An unbridgeable gulf separates Islam from the West, in particular from the Roman traditions of Europe.
Perhaps the most original, in-depth analysis of this question is that of Roger Scruton. In The West and the Rest, Scruton shows the extent to which the religious and philosophical roots of Western nations are entirely absent in Islamic societies. This automatically places the two systems at extreme odds.
“Mohammed’s project [was] a remarkable one: to replace the tribal society and its pagan gods with a new, universal order—the Islamic umma—founded on belief in the one true God and on the acceptance of his commands,” Scruton writes. “To achieve this result Mohammed had to persuade people that he was God’s messenger; he had also to give proof of God’s favor by success in war.” Historically, the result has been conflict between Western civilization and Islam, the most outstanding example being the Crusades.
Nothing has fundamentally changed in this equation, except the means of achieving intended ends. Whereas Islam militarily invaded Europe in the past, today’s invasion is one of immigrants fleeing the oppressive societies of Islam to settle in Europe. There they form their Islamic enclaves. They build their mosques. They employ their teachers, their imams. Too often those imams then teach them the same messages of hatred of the West that emanate from the restrictive systems from which they fled. The result is minds being conditioned to express a desire for the annihilation of the very people responsible for granting them their newfound freedoms!
What’s more, as Scruton observes, “[T]hose Muslims who settle down, integrate, and acquire some kind of loyalty to Western institutions and customs [even some becoming members of the British Parliament] often produce children who, despite being brought up in the West, identify themselves in opposition to it—an opposition so fierce as again to verge on the desire for annihilation.” This phenomenon creates a breeding ground for Islamist extremism that has become deeply embedded within Europe. We should not forget that the terrorists who were responsible for 9/11 came from a terrorist cell cultivated within Hamburg, Germany.
The realization of this homegrown problem is driving European parliamentarians and eu right-wing lobbyists to seek curbs on immigration. The eu feels provoked from within as well as from without by the impact of Islam on European society.
Meanwhile, many Islamic powers are awash with capital as a result of the massive price hike in oil. European leaders are well aware that a good portion of this money is being channeled to build up the Islamic terrorist armory. With Islamic Pakistan already nuclear empowered and Iran well on the way, forces in Europe are starting to react.
The increasing impotence of American foreign policy and the Islamic threat from the south are combining to motivate the rise in militarism within some circles in the eu. Iran is a crucial part of this equation. No nation will succeed in closing down Iran’s nuclear program until the spread of pan-Islam and the prospect of a nuclear-powered Islamic crescent motivates the European bloc to wipe it out. The self-imposed feebleness of the U.S. in dealing with Iran and its cohorts of terror will be the eu’s opportunity, and it will not pass that opportunity up.
For the time being, the eu is holding back, refraining from aggressive military solutions to today’s global challenges, which in effect has contributed to the U.S. and Britain exhausting themselves militarily. But in the process, the eu has quietly pursued its own military and political goals. The Balkan wars, the subsequent and growing deployment of German military forces in theaters outside of Europe, plus Germany’s contending for greater control in the Afghanistan war, are cases in point.
Radical Islam, under perpetual stimulation from Iran’s contributions to the coffers of the terrorists, will continue to develop as a threat to world peace until its push against Europe becomes intolerable to the rising great northern power. Then, as Bible prophecy declares, blitzkrieg is sure to follow (Daniel 11:40).
But in the meantime, it’s a case of deals and counter-deals between future enemies, all geared to the detriment of the Anglo-Americans.
Asia—incorporating China, India, the Southeast Asian economies and a progressively eastward-looking, anti-West Russia—is increasingly linking in trade.
The three rising power blocs—the eu, the Islamic nations and Asia—are forging linkages and alliances destined to leave the U.S. out in the cold.
Meanwhile, Africa and Latin America remain up for grabs, with competition mounting intensively from the eu and East Asia for those continents’ raw materials.
Parag Khanna, author of The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order, observed: “From Asia to Eastern Europe to Latin America, middle-income countries are growing increasingly assertive. These ‘Second World’ states are forging links among themselves and are adept at playing off First World powers against each other” (Prospect, May 2008).
These alliances are flourishing outside the Anglo-American sphere, quite independent of Washington’s influence. They threaten the system overseen by British and American peoples since the 18th century that strives to keep tyranny at bay.
Prospect magazine summarized some of these startling developments. “Russia has offered to build nuclear reactors for Iran and Libya, Kazakhstan and Malaysia are holding trade conferences to link their regions, and an oil production alliance is sprouting between Iran, Indonesia and Venezuela. Chinese fly directly to Brazil, while Brazilians fly directly to Africa, Indians are investing from Syria to Vietnam and the Abu Dhabi investment authority spreads its wealth from Wall Street to Nanjing Road” (ibid.).
Greater Asia’s growing ability to develop economically, politically and militarily as a counter to Western dominance is no longer in question.
In the meantime—in a powerful demonstration of the prophesied loss of the world’s major sea gates, which were once all possessed by the Anglo-Saxon nations—China gears up to dominate the high seas by controlling the globe’s major seaways through a combination of port ownership and a nuclear-armed blue-water navy. India, another Asian nuclear-armed power, is rapidly building its own blue-water navy.
Japan, possessing the second-largest navy in the world, is said to have the technical ability to produce nuclear armaments within weeks of any decision to proceed on such a course. Russia works to revive and add new technology to its aged but extensive nuclear-armed fleet. At the same time, nuclear-armed Pakistan remains unstable and is a known haven for Islamic militants. North Korea remains a rogue state, intent on pursuing its own nuclear agenda.
The combined nuclear armaments of Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea would present a formidable power to defenses should these nations ever form a pan-Asian military alliance. That such a bloc will arise to challenge the great northern power of Europe is deeply embedded in Bible prophecies for the times immediately ahead (e.g. Daniel 11:44; Ezekiel 38:1-6; Revelation 9:16).
Prophesied Tri-Polar World
As the U.S. descent from superpower status accelerates, this world may, for a brief moment, become “non polar” as Richard Haass suggests. Yet such a state would only exist until some event removes the U.S. as a key player in the global economy.
For many years, Herbert Armstrong pointed to the prospect of the failure of the global economic and financial system as possibly catalyzing the downfall of the U.S. and the rise of other powers contending for global hegemony. He declared that such an event would shake the nations into the configuration that is prophesied to herald the imminence of the end of man’s age of misrule of this planet: the “king of the north” (Daniel 11:13), the “king of the south” (Daniel 11:40), and the “kings of the east” (Revelation 16:12).
Many today predict that the day will come when Asia, especially China, will be the dominant economic and political world power. Indeed, a great Asian power grab is slated to occur per these end-of-an-age prophecies, but not before the great northern power, centered in Europe, dominates the globe for a brief moment after its blitzkrieg against the Islamic nations (Daniel 11:40).
Mr. Armstrong explained the global catastrophe that will follow the decline of the British and American peoples thus: “This world is giving assent to, and conferring civilization’s acceptance on, the ways that are the causes of all the world’s ills. … Forces are at work today on plans, programs, conspiracies, movements that soon will erupt into a world explosion of violence and chaos such as never happened before, and never will again” (The United States and Britain in Prophecy).
Pointing to the prophesied decline of the Anglo-Saxons from the pinnacle of world power, Mr. Armstrong declared, “He [God] put our nations in the position of possessing the greatest national power any nation or empire ever possessed. We had great pride in that national power—in our national prestige. … Today even little nations dare to insult, trample on, or burn the United States flag—and the United States, still having power, does no more than issue a weak protest! What’s happened to the pride of our power?” (ibid.).
Herbert Armstrong continually pointed out that, because of their innate tendency to reject the God who gave them such stupendous, unmatched blessings, the Anglo-Saxon nations should expect the day to come when “The stranger [or foreigner] that is within thee shall get up above thee very high; and thou shalt come down very low” (Deuteronomy 28:43).
Our regular readers would be aware that the biblical prophecies reveal a final global composite consisting of three great powers—a great northern power, a southern power and an eastern power—on the rise at a time of the descent of the Anglo-Saxon and Judaic nations. A closer study of these prophesied power blocs requires knowledge of the connection between the ancient biblical names of the nations that they comprise and their modern counterparts. Mr. Armstrong’s book The United States and Britain in Prophecy makes this provable connection. Study that book in association with our booklets The King of the South, Russia and China in Prophecy and Germany and the Holy Roman Empire, and you will make the connections between the modern and ancient biblical names for the key nations dominating the world scene today.
See and Understand!
Clearly, the current rise of three major power blocs now parallels the descent of the leading Anglo-Saxon nation, the United States of America. The fact that this emerging global order parallels exactly those prophecies for these times that have been embedded in your Bible for thousands of years awaiting their revealing at this time ought to make you think.
For most of the 20th century, Mr. Armstrong prophesied the very order of nations that today is emerging on the world scene. Request a free copy of our special Trumpet edition titled “He Was Right!” It will really enlighten you on just how much Mr. Armstrong knew, far in advance of its happening, about the events that would take place in the world today and in the few years ahead.
Herbert Armstrong died over 20 years ago. Who listened to him? Perhaps you were one who heard, and now remembers, and can now see clearly that you, right now, are living through what he prophesied, for decades, so long ago. If you are, it’s time you did something about it!
Understanding just where today’s world events are leading and the great hope they promise for the future can produce a transcendental peace of mind, a state of peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7). Nothing gives one confidence in the future as much as knowing, beyond all doubt, just where today’s events are leading! Life takes on a whole new meaning when one possesses a clear vision of the future. That vision can be yours to grasp, to give your life new meaning, new purpose and a strong sense of personal security! It includes an understanding of the great future for mankind that lies ahead of the exciting, prophesied world events that even now are unfolding before your very eyes! •